Many beer festivals are content to lean on the breweries alone to create the atmosphere. The best beer festival planners, however, know it is about more than that.
You want to create an atmosphere of joy and fun, and this is something Beer Under The Big Top embraces wholeheartedly.
Contortionists, sword swallowers, jugglers, and stilt walkers kept guests very well entertained, in between the unlimited samples of stellar beer offerings from craft brewers (and a few big beers there as well, but I paid them no mind).
You could also take a break from beers, head to the center stage, and watch some wonderful performances by the Squidling Brothers, a world-traveling collective of freaks and circus performers who combine feats of physical endurance, skill, and comedy.
Mystery Circus Arts were also on hand with demonstrations and even lessons in tightrope walking, juggling, and balloon twisting, as well as some wonderful sleight of hand and close-up magic tricks to amaze and astound the guests.
The food trucks were a familiar break from the circus, with beer festival favorites like Nick’s Roast Beef, Barkley’s BBQ, el Guaco Loco, Grubaholics, and Humpty’s Dumplings all serving up their assorted offerings for guests.
Craft Beer Highlights
Erotolupulinophobia by Tuned Up Brewing Company
I actually missed out on this beer the first time around, having arrived late to the Phoenixville Beer & Wine Festival, and after having another chance at this beer from Tuned Up Brewing Company, I had to include it in my highlights here.
The name itself really helps the beer stand out, loosely translated it means a “fear of having sex with hop plants.” And upon tasting, this NEIPA is another wonderfully sweet and hoppy juice bomb.
Perfectly balanced. I look forward to trying more from Tuned Up, a two-year-old brewery from Spring City, PA.
Ma! The Meatloaf by Evil Genius Beer Company
Evil Genius Beer Company of Philadelphia keeps surprising me. I’m still overjoyed they decided to open up in Philly, after years as gypsy brewers. A bit outside of my usual wheelhouse, this one is a mango witbeer.
Lemons and mangos in the nose alongside notes of grapefruit, peaches, and oranges, this is a very enticing scent. This is a solid witbeer.
Soft wheat flavors, sour tangerines, grapefruits and mangoes, spicy cloves, and a dry orange finish. Crisp, creamy, and light-bodied, with an incredibly high drinkability factor.
Woosh by Double Nickel Brewing Company
I know, I know, yet another New England style IPA. I just love them so much, and Double Nickel Brewing Company has really been a standout for me on top of that (especially that Mega Dank 420 Kush Daddy Supreme IPA).
They just seem to get me. This beer was no different. Dry hopped with citra, eukanot and cascade, this beer is citrus heaven with just the slightest touch of grapefruit.
Even though it is just a shade over what is generally considered a session beer at 5.8% ABV, this beer is still immensely crushable.
Double Nickel has another winner on their hands, they really seem to know my sweet spot with their IPAs.
Mr. Strawberry by Highway Manor Brewing
I always love coming across Highway Manor at a tasting event or beer festival. Mostly because I can never drink a full bottle of sours, but still really appreciate the flavors.
As I described before, at the Foodery Sours Class when I first came across Mr. Strawberry: Pours a hazy dark yellow-orange with moderate head. Tart, herbal notes and strawberry in the nose.
Funky and wild, this medium-bodied is tart with almost a lambic-like sourness. The strawberry tart stays with you in the aftertaste, with a light strawberry jam sweetness behind it all.
Huntingdon Drive by Urban Village Brewing Company
A blend of simcoe, citra and amarillo hops, we are off to a good start. Aroma of floral and tropical hops alongside mangoes, oranges, grapefruits, and a light pine.
Taste matches the nose, with a spicy bitter hop backend, finishing dry and sweet with a lingering floral hop taste. This Urban Village brew would be absolutely perfect with some smoked wings.
Self-Loathing by Freddy Martino
If homebrewers are available at the beer festival, I always want to give them a shoutout. Specifically, I wanted to mention Freddy Martino of the Main Line Brewers Association for his session IPA, packed with citra, mosaic and galaxy hops. Definitely in my top 10 at the event.